The Cottage Smallholder

stumbling self sufficiency in a small space

Tea and roses

red roseI realised that if I bought leaf tea rather than tea bags I could save a bit of cash and also use the sweet little tea spoon that I inherited from my grandmother. It meant a week of drinking some rather elderly mango infused tea to finish the caddy. I stuck it for a couple of days and put the rest in the compost bin – it is supposed to be a fertiliser after all.

We discovered that the loose tea leaves were packed with far more flavour than the same type and brand of teabags. But dealing with the tea leaves was going to be a bit of a palaver.

Remembering that my mum used to put the tea leaves on the soil under the rose bushes, I have been feeding the rose that grows outside the back door with the leftover tea and leaves. The clematis that grows through it, a weedy specimen that has drifted waif like through at least ten summers, has perked up considerably. And was clearly longing for tea rather than good plain water. Admittedly it’s in a rather dry spot.
“I’m sure that it would thrive on whisky. It’s the moisture not the tea.” Danny was examining the miniature forest of new stalks and leaves.
“The rose is looking much happier too.”

The rose, has always been stick like. A Kate Moss amongst roses. With most of the growth at the top of slim stems. Now new buds are forming lower down. Fired with enthusiasm, I cut out all dead growth at lunchtime and watered it well.

I looked up the benefits of using tea as a fillip for the garden and discovered that it’s a natural fertiliser for roses and a host of other plants including parsley. In fact most plants would benefit from a top dressing of tea leaves even the ones emptied from old teabags.

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  1. Fiona Nevile

    Hi Martin

    So your blackbirds are not tea lovers! I have discovered that tea (cold) and tea leaves are great for acid loving plants so we are now keeping our old bags specifically for that use. The plants are loving their new tea tonic!

  2. Martin

    We have been composting our vegetable kitchen waste for many years, including the tea-bags. This year the blackbirds have taken a dislike to them and fastiduously pick them out of the new scraps, and chuck them on the ground- we ended up with a dried tea bag layer all around the bin. The birds then pick over the tasty bits for a treat.

  3. Pamela

    Hello Fiona

    I do know that the dried fruit soaks overnight in the cold tea. Would using hot tea speed up the process in an emergency situation? or maybe it would just spoil the fruit? Perhaps you could also add a dash of something stronger to the cold tea.

    Thank you for the birthday wishes, I’ll be making sushi tomorrow for my party guests.

  4. Fiona Nevile

    Hello Pamela

    Happy Birthday!

    Thanks so much for taking the trouble to give me this information.

    Don’t worry about the recipe you have given me the essential bits. It was the tea and the preparation of the fruit that interested me. I use a minimum cake mix to maximum fruit.

    ‘Magnificent Chocolate Cake’ sound like the perfect early birthday guzzle!

  5. Pamela

    Well, I did ask about the recipe for the cold tea cake – perhaps it was a bit too late in the day, but I got a stereo response from my mum and big sister which involved 1 cup of cold tea and 2 cups of dried fruit, flour was mentioned but it was hard to make out the quantity and type from the cacophony of noise. I’ll ask again when my sister isn’t around and I can pin my mum down for more precise details. I think a cooking time might be useful. However, more to my taste was the magnificent chocolate cake my mum made for my early birthday celebrations as I am now back in Cumbria.

  6. Fiona Nevile

    Hi Pamela

    The recipe would be great. Ah now I see what you mean by not too onerous!

  7. Pamela

    Hi Fiona

    It’s not a problem as I’m currently staying with my mum, working at Head Office with my brother but I forgot to look last night when I got back. I’m also fairly sure she knows the recipe off by heart. My dad’s mid-week cooking was basic in that he got things started, potatoes cooking, veg done, meat started but my mum would pull it all together when she got home from work and we never do desserts during the week. Sunday lunch on the other hand is a work of art and a week’s worth of dessert is consumed in one sitting!

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